ST. LOUIS — Next man up. Again.
Dustin May is out of the Dodgers’ starting rotation for “at least a month and we’re probably looking beyond that,” Manager Dave Roberts said Thursday, a day after May was removed from his start after one inning with elbow pain.
The MRI that followed delivered a good news/bad news diagnosis. The good news was that May’s flexor tendon and ulnar collateral ligament (the one repaired during Tommy John surgery in May 2021) are intact. But the flexor pronator mass in his pitching elbow suffered a strain. May will receive a platelet-rich plasma injection to promote healing with the hope that he will be able to return to the rotation sometime near midseason.
In the meantime, the Dodgers have an opening in that rotation and Gavin Stone “makes the most sense” to fill it for now, Roberts said without confirming that Stone will start Monday in Atlanta when May’s spot comes around again.
The 24-year-old Stone made his major league debut earlier this month, allowing five runs on eight hits in four innings against the Philadelphia Phillies. In two starts since returning to Triple-A Oklahoma City, he has been outstanding, allowing just three earned runs on seven hits while striking out 14 in 11 innings.
“I do think that the second go, if it is potentially Gavin, will be better,” Roberts said. “But Dustin is a big void.”
In the meantime, though, it was Michael Grove who showed up in St. Louis on Thursday. Grove is still on the IL with a groin injury suffered during his fourth start of the season on April 20. Grove has been at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona, rehabilitating and pitched in an extended spring training camp game on Monday.
Grove threw a bullpen session Wednesday morning then headed to the airport. He will be on the taxi squad in St. Louis, Roberts said, and will only be activated if circumstances leave the Dodgers in need of an arm in the bullpen.
“I watched his first inning then I was on the plane so I couldn’t stream it,” Grove said of hearing about May’s injury. “Then I started getting texts, ‘What’s going on with D-May?’ I was, ‘What do you mean?’ I didn’t know until after (his flight).
“That certainly shakes stuff up.”
Indeed, it does – just as Tony Gonsolin’s spring ankle injury did at the start of the season.
Grove is not an option to rejoin the starting rotation at this point. And neither is Ryan Pepiot or Bobby Miller.
Miller’s season started late as the Dodgers handled him carefully following some shoulder soreness. He has a 5.65 ERA after 14⅓ innings in four starts at Triple-A.
Pepiot, meanwhile, has been limited to throwing on flat ground after experiencing renewed discomfort from the oblique injury that landed him on the IL to start the season. He is not likely to return until after the All-Star break, according to Roberts.
But the Dodgers are not inclined to look outside the organization for starting pitching help, a source said. The trade market is not much of an option until closer to the in-season deadline anyway – and by then the Dodgers could have May back with Grove and Pepiot as options.
“The thing we’ve done a really nice job of over the years is that when something like this unforeseen happens, we continue to move forward and guys step up,” Roberts said.
“I’m very excited about the arms we’ve got potentially coming. Maybe we didn’t expect to see them so soon. But we’ll see.”
As a result of a 12-inning game on Monday, an uncharacteristically short start by Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday and May’s early exit Wednesday, the Dodgers’ bullpen pitched 21 innings during the three-game series with the Minnesota Twins (compared to nine by the three starting pitchers). That workload left them short-handed and taxed heading into the four-game series in St. Louis.
“That’s one of those things – you don’t know until you know about a ballclub,” Roberts said. “When you’re up against it and there’s not a guy in the ’pen that said, ‘I’m down.’ (Bullpen coach) Josh Bard came to me and said, ‘All the guys want to take the baseball.’ Guys that were down were lacing their spikes up. Victor (Gonzalez) and Brusdar (Graterol) in that 12-inning game were ready.
“Everyone feels that. For me as a manager, once you get that assurance that they’re going to be fine physically then you feel more comfort with their desires. These guys have carried us through this stretch.”
To shore up that bullpen, the Dodgers recalled Andre Jackson and Justin Bruihl on Thursday. May went to the IL and right-hander Dylan Covey (who pitched four innings in relief of May on Wednesday in his first major league game since 2020) was designated for assignment.
Dodgers (RHP Tony Gonsolin, 1-1, 1.42 ERA) at Cardinals (LHP Steven Matz, 0-4, 5.62 ERA), Friday, 5:15 p.m., SportsNet LA, MLB Network, 570 AM
Game Day: With Dustin May down, who’s up for Dodgers?
Hoornstra: So the Oakland A’s want to move into Dodger territory?
James Outman’s grand slam propels Dodgers past Twins, but Dustin May leaves with ‘elbow pain’
Dodgers withdraw Pride Night invitation to group accused of mocking Christians
Dodgers give Trayce Thompson a rare start against a righty